With bills to pay, food, clothing and other essentials to buy, and a (hopefully) prosperous future to dream of, your employees rely on their paycheck to help them take care of life’s necessities. As professionals, they know if do their job well and contribute to the success of the company, they should be recognized for their hard work. As humans, they know if they express loyalty towards the company and their colleagues, they should be rewarded.

Should be recognized. Should be rewarded.

But what if you are unable to offer your employees a raise or bonus? Have you been slow to recover from the economic recession? Is a competitor winning business away from you? Are you rebuilding or restructuring? If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, chances are you may not have enough liquidity to provide employees with the raises they expect and deserve.

It is important to be as transparent as possible. You don’t have to reveal any details of your company’s cash flow or situations that would allow them to question your leadership. Instead, employees must understand why their pay is frozen or promotions are not coming. If the information and facts are murky your employees will draw their own conclusions about the circumstances. Sharing the facts will help to ensure that the rumor mill does not become a problem.

Here are some suggestions for what you can offer your employees as a temporary substitute:

Greater flexibility

Many employees appreciate having increased flexibility when it comes to their work schedule. Depending on a person’s unique circumstances, one may prefer the opportunity to work longer hours four days per week and have an extra day off. Flex time has been shown to contribute to employee satisfaction, and as long as the work gets completed it is something that companies can offer with little or no impact on their bottom-line.

Opportunity for advancement within the company

This is not a situation whereby you give employees more work for no additional pay. Rather, the situation calls for providing employees with additional training that will enable them to grow within the company and be better positioned for a more significant salary increase once the financial situation has improved.

Provide desirable perks

Sure, everyone wants money, but there are other perks and amenities that, if offered at the right times, will help to maintain employee morale and preserve their loyalty. These include providing a free breakfast or lunch one day per week (or more if possible), on-site yoga or exercise classes, gift certificates for babysitting, movies or sports events, and tuition reimbursement. The key is to make certain that the perks are suitable for your workforce. For instance, gift certificates for babysitting aren’t an incentive for a workforce largely comprised of single employees. The perks must be desirable and appropriate, and if not then they can incite even more unhappiness at the lack of a raise in pay.

Most important is to be certain to show your appreciation for your employees. Be lavish with your praise, ensure them the moratorium on pay raises is a temporary situation and you should be able to retain your staff.